Every year before the strike of midnight on December 31st, I like to spend some time reviewing how the past twelve months has been for me. This year I had planned to spend a significant amount of time on this piece of work but life, as is often the case, got in the way.

2012 has been a big year for me but not one I can easily summarise. Despite being characterised by change, I’ve felt more settled than ever before, despite feelings of extreme loneliness I’ve made more friends this year than at any other time I can remember and despite travelling to the other side of the world, I’ve found myself feeling more at home than I ever did in the UK.

The highlights of my year

So much has happened this year that it’s impossible to review it all so I’ll do my best to give you the highlights.

I started the year living with my awesome best friend, who made me the generous offer of rent-free accommodation for my last three months in the UK, so that I could save more money for my forthcoming travels and spend some quality time hanging out. (Cheers dude!)

Sold or gave away everything I owned, minus four boxes of books and a box of personal items, which are now living in my friend’s loft.

Quit my job and when asked what I was going on to do by my former boss, beamed a wide smile as I said “I’m going to travel the world and spend the next year working out what I really want to do with my life.”

Left the UK and flew to Bangkok on a single ticket, landed, checked into a hostel near the infamous Kao San Road and promptly regretted everything.

Spent several weeks fighting back tears, feeling painfully lonely and wondering what on earth I had done before deciding to get a grip and do this thing.

Spent four weeks volunteering at an animal welfare centre, which saw me cleaning up a lot of cat shit, breaking up dogfights, assisting a vet in an operation on a wounded monkey and making a friend (of the human variety) that I know I’ll have for life.

Faced my irrational fears about drowning and learned how to scuba dive.

Meditated everyday for 30 days and saw profound changes in my life as a result.

Visited Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and then decided to settle down (for god knows how long) in a wonderful place in Northern Thailand called Chiang Mai.

Discovered Ashtanga yoga and started attending classes 3-4 times a week.

Wrote thirty blog posts in thirty days.

Got a great job working online for this brilliant and inspirational dude.

Fulfilled a life-long ambition and wrote a novel in nine days without losing the will to live.

Met and spent time with an abundance of wonderful and inspirational people, which included being warmly welcomed to Singapore by this generous soul and his beautiful family, becoming the closest of friends with this guy and his incredible wife, hanging out for the day with this adventurous soul, putting the world to rights over lunch with this Irish dude and many more besides.

Saw my world turned upside down by the unexpected and heart-breaking death of my witty, wonderful, inspirational and beloved Uncle two days before Christmas.

Slept through Christmas Day due to a very unpleasant stomach bug.

Welcomed in 2013 with my brilliant Dad and his beautiful wife.

Despite the grief and the illness of the past few weeks, found it within myself to feel grateful for all of the love in my life and the wonderful people I’m lucky enough to share my life with. I’ve even managed to feel excited and inspired about the year ahead.

How I got on with my 2012 goals

I had an ambitious set of goals for 2012 and my achievement of them is a bit of a mixed bag. For those of you who are interested, here are the deets.

1.    Get rid of 98% of what I currently own.

Mission accomplished. Back in the early part of 2012, I sold or gave away most of what I owned, including clothes, CDs, sports equipment, my car, furniture and books. There were a number of books (my material weakness) I didn’t want to part with and a box full of photographs and letters that I’m currently storing in a friend’s loft.

2.    Learn to play guitar and write a song.

In hindsight this goal was probably over ambitious, as it relied on using my friend’s guitar and therefore learning to play before I left the UK. Between January and March I was a little too busy preparing for my travels to think about learning to play the guitar. This remains a goal of mine but not one I’m likely to focus on in 2013.

3.    Launch digital course with C.A. Kobu and Kathy Sprinkle.

This was put on hold when I left the UK and it soon became apparent that working on a collaboration while on the road was going to be too difficult. Cigdem went on to create a beautiful digital course called A Year With Myself and Kathy continues to cultivate delight over at her inspiring blog blisshabits.com.

4.    Create my own digital course 

The theme I set for 2012 was ‘creation’ and as such, as well as a planned collaboration, I also wanted to create my own digital course. It turns out that whilst creation was my planned theme for 2012, in reality the actual theme for 2012 was change. Amongst it all, creating a digital course went on the back-burner (and for the time-being still is).

5.    First draft of my novel

There was one creation I did achieve and that was 50,000 words of a draft novel. This current draft needs a lot of work but I feel one step closer to my dream of having a novel published. The plan is to spend a chunk of time in 2013 editing the draft and then sending a completed manuscript to publishers.

6.    A Blueprint for Living without Limits

There is a philosophy behind this blog, a set of beliefs that I have about how to live my life and make the most of it. In a nutshell it’s Doing Acro-Yoga that the only thing that really stops us from living the life of our dreams is ourselves; our own thoughts, fears and perceived limitations. When we can identify the ways in which we block ourselves and remove those barriers, then we can live without limits. I came to this conclusion through years of reading, experiences and lessons learned. I wanted to share those with you in the form of an eBook in 2012 and whilst I didn’t manage to, it remains on my long-term agenda.

7.    Visit South East Asia

This I achieved. This year, I have visited Thailand (Krabi, Koh Lanta, Bangkok, Chiang Mai), Malaysia (Penang, Cameron Highlands, Melaka, Kuala Lumpur), Indonesia (Sumatra, Java and Bali) and Singapore. I haven’t left South East Asia yet because I wanted to take a break from backpacking and settle for a while to focus on work. I chose to settle in Chiang Mai and I’ve since fallen in love with the place.

8.    Visit India

A while back I planned to be in India by December, this plan changed when I realised how happy I was living in Chiang Mai and that I would be leaving for the sake of travelling and not because I wanted to.

9.    Visit Africa

I hadn’t even got round to thinking about Africa this year, I have no doubt I’ll get there one day but for now it remains on my longer-term plan.

10.  A Year of experiments

Originally my plan for this goal was to do a different experiment every month, I didn’t quite manage to do twelve of them, but I did do the following four:

Flowers from a Thai templeWriting 30 blog posts in 30 days, which I loved doing. I chose to do this after a period of inactivity on the blog and some time struggling with my writing, writing a post everyday got me back into the habit of writing and made me realise that, like with many things, creativity is similar to a muscle that needs to be exercised in order to stay strong.

Writing a novel in 30 days, this was supposed to involve writing some of my novel everyday for 30 days but in the end I concentrated all of my writing into only nine days, making for a pretty intense but extremely rewarding experience.

Meditating for 30 days, I didn’t announce or review this 30-day experiment on my blog but for 30 days I did meditate for ten minutes each day using the following mantra: “I expand in love, abundance and success every day as I inspire those around me to do the same.” As a result of doing this everyday, I started to see big changes in my life. I landed a lucrative job and saw my social life expand dramatically.

Exercising everyday for 30 days. This went well and saw me discovering Ashtanga yoga and feeling fitter and healthier than I have done in years.

11. Blog goals

I talked about blog goals that I never actually got around to defining but that would have related to growth. In contrast I definitely feel as though my blog has seen a lot less activity in 2012 compared to 2011 when I first launched it. My posts have been a lot less regular and at times weeks have passed without any new content. I would like to rectify this in 2013. Writing on this blog is a fulfilling past time for me and one that I hope also benefits others.

Goals for 2013

I had planned to write these goals a while back. In fact I had planned to do a lot of things over the last month and then life (and a death in the family) got in the way. Losing someone I love has had an impact on the way I see life. Setting goals suddenly felt unimportant and meaningless, so I ditched the idea of a an annual plan and focused on dealing with my grief instead.

The thing is, setting goals and working towards them is something that I love to do, so it wasn’t long before I found myself sat staring at an open word document with the words Goals for 2013 typed at the top. Possibly because of my grief, I felt an overwhelming need for simplicity, to strive less and focus more. I wrote the first three things that came to mind and then sat back, folded my arms and smiled as I remembered my theory on the power of three.

1. Become a life coach (to feel useful to others)

2. Find love (to feel loving and loved)

3. Complete my manuscript (to feel creatively fulfilled)

Then without any effort whatsoever, three more thoughts popped into my head:

4. Develop a daily meditation practice (to feel more mindful and still)

5. Develop a regular writing practice (to feel creatively fulfilled)

6. Save £10,000 (to feel financially secure)

I stopped and reviewed what I had written and said to myself: okay so how about three lots of three? I like things to fit neatly. The next two came easily:

7. Develop a daily yoga practice (to feel in touch with my body and mind)

8. Reach the peak of my physical fitness (to feel healthy and strong)

9. (to feel open to possibilities)

I couldn’t think of a ninth goal. Eventually I wrote create a product and that stayed on my list for a few days. Today as I publish this Yi Peng Festivalpost, I realise that the ninth goal was the only one I forced, all of the other goals fell on to the page with ease. So I’ve decided that I’m going to leave goal nine clear, empty and free to see what comes.

As I re-read these goals I see very little that is new, many are a continuation of goals already started in 2012 and I’m okay with that.  After so much change and activity last year, I’m feeling the need for a year of being gentle with myself rather than pushing. A year to consolidate and enjoy, rather than to strive for, a year to be present and mindful rather than driven and determined. A year of peaceful presence, rather than movement.

That’s why my theme for 2013 is: Quiet focus.

What if, first, we got clear on how we actually wanted to feel in our life, and then we laid out our intentions? What if your most desired feelings consciously informed how you plan your day, your year, your career, your holidays — your life? ~ Danielle LaPorte

Danielle LaPorte reminds us to focus on what we want to feel when setting goals and that is what I had in mind when I set mine, the focus on feelings is represented by the words in brackets after each goal.

How was your 2012? Have you stopped to take some time to review how it went for you? Have you had a think about what you would like to achieve in 2013 and more importantly how you want to feel this year? If so, please feel free to share because I’d love to hear about what you have planned. If you liked this post, please do share it by hitting up one of the buttons below.